On the Prowl Again

Lo-sec is fun.

Things in our new headquarters are going well, if maybe a bit slowly. We’ve been spoiled by the income rate of living in a C3 wormhole, but things are starting to get back on track. The moon mining is going smoothly and Snow predicts that we should bring in around half a billion isk in profit every month. That’s not a lot for a corp in Eve in the grand scheme of things, but when you realize the absurdly low amount of effort needed to maintain that system, it is actually working out very well.

I personally, really have nothing to do with it which leaves me time to find trouble. My nights in the lo-sec chain usually start the same way. I log in alone in our HQ system, grab my sniper Oracle and proceed to annihilate every rat in the system from 100km out. It’s a silly ritual really, but the slow gain in security status is welcomed and it keeps me entertained for a half hour or so. Once I’ve “done my time” on the security status grind I switch over to my Pilgrim, my precious precious Pilgrim, and head out to find something more interesting to blow up.

It starts off as any other roam. A few empty systems until I get to the bigger pvp hubs of the chain. Then I switch over to evasion mode, the goal of which is just not to get trapped by a blob anywhere. After that I’m into my most fertile of hunting grounds. It’s a small section of our local lo-sec chain that connects to some hi-sec regions. This area always seems to have the perfect mix in it. Just a few pilots, usually some younger players ratting. Enough traffic to keep me from getting bored, but not so much to scare me off a kill.

This evening I pass through the first system quickly after seeing a retribution and tengu on my scanner being piloted by members of the same corp. No thank you! I move on to the next system where another pilot of the same corp is ratting in a few belts. He’s in a Navy Slicer, which would be a fun trophy to hang on the kill board. I chuckle to myself when I read the name on his ship, Dart of Fury. Ok that’s clever, points for being funny, but you’re still going to die. I scan him down just as he warps out of one belt and on to the next one. I follow and end up 18km from him as he orbits a rat. It’s a great setup. With the new speed fit I can web him from here and disrupt his warp engines, all while staying well out of range of his scrambler, assuming he didn’t fit a disruptor. I punch F1 to decloak and get some funny error message about not being able to cloak while within 2,000 meters of an asteroid.

But I’m trying to turn off the cloak…oh. Bumping into an asteroid upon warp in saves me the trouble of turning off the module and I start locking the frigate down. Just one or two seconds to go, all my systems are hot and the fleet of light drones are spilling from my drone bay. But right before the lock is solid he manages to get away. That split second where the asteroid decloaked me before I noticed gave the pilot enough notice to bug out. So close! I recall the drones and get out of the belt quickly, knowing he has a few friends in the next system over, and they’re names show up on the local comm channel just as I recloak 100km from the sun.

With that excitement over I start to hunt again in the next system up the chain but it doesn’t look like anyone is around. I start moving back towards the HQ system, where another area is usually productive. I find an Imicus around a belt, but as I warp in I find him 220km away. Well that’s no fun. My presence in the system seems to startle him though and he warps to a safespot between planets 4 and 5. I decide to grab my scanning boat and see if I can grab him in the safespot before he moves again. It’s four jumps to get the scanner but he’s still there when I return. I get the probes up to a 22% lock on his position before he moves and starts taunting me in local about only using 5 probes. Interestingly enough it starts off a conversation that ends with us on very good terms. I offer to hunt around with him if he’s around in the future, citing the fact that most of my corpmates are offline around this time of the evening and I’m usually flying solo. It will be interesting to see if anything comes of it.

I bid him safe travels and head back to the HQ to mine for a while as I take care of some things on the interwebs. It’s getting late, so I pack in the Hulk and grab the ore from my can to call it a night. I still need to setup my planetary markets in the area, but can’t be bothered with doing it right now. It’s well past my bedtime and listening to the methodical drone of the mining lasers has made me very sleepy. Time to dock up and call it a night.

The Hunters Become the Hunted

I log in Saturday morning to find most of the corp already in-game. Not much is going on, we have our static wormhole connection to lo-sec and that’s about it. No anomalies, no other signatures, in short nothing to do. I get my planetary obligations sorted out and deliver a new order of rocket fuel to the ever eager missile production team. It’s nice to feel wanted.

Our connection is close to hi-sec, right on the border actually, so Oz and I take the opportunity to go shopping. Our wallet is flush with cash from his subsystem production and I’m more than happy to help him spend it. We had been talking earlier about the recent engagements we’ve had in the HQ system. After browsing through our hangars we realize we have a very specialized fleet. Almost no T1 ships to speak of, and the T2’s we do have are very specialized and honestly not particularly useful in many fights. We need to solidify a good fighting base of ships to keep in the HQ for system defense.

I write up a corpwide email detailing our new goal. Every pilot should have two combat ready battleships and two combat ready battlecruisers focusing on damage output. It won’t guarantee that we can fight off every hostile force that comes our way, but it certainly will be more effective than just bombing the wrecks in our own system’s anomalies.

Between one of our runs to Amarr we notice a hostile pilot in our HQ system’s local communication channel. Apparently he had warped to the tower and managed to not get decloaked in our warp bubble and can traps. We quickly scan down the new wormhole that connects us to a class 2 wormhole system and setup a blockade. We park an interceptor on either side of the wormhole and I position my new sniper Oracle 95km off of our side of the hole. With my sensor boosters and tracking enhancers I can lock frigates in less than three seconds and pop them in one or two volleys. The waiting begins.

The waiting lasts for a long time, and we never actually see our intruder again. Eventually we collapse the C2 connection trapping the scout in our system. We see him later on in the static system, where he threatens to bring out his pvp ship. Interesting how he has a pvp ship in this system he didn’t have a connection to until we locked him out of his own wormhole.

Now that the intruders are dealt with and our new purchases are fitted out and sitting in our hangars, it’s time to hunt! Oz, Snow, and myself fit out some T1 cruisers and get ready to roam. I’m piloting a speed tanked Arbitrator, Oz is in a brawler of a Maller, and Snow rolls out in a Retribution. Unfortunately we find a few ships in safespots in our static system, so we ask Snow to head back to HQ and get a scanning boat instead. It’s incredible how often you find ships in safespots in lo-sec systems, especially in FW systems. Having that scanning boat leads to a lot of kills and I’m grateful she was willing to forgo a combat ship to help the team out.

We find an Imicus afk in a safespot, and as par for the course, I blow that shit up. We cruise around for a while longer looking for someone to shoot but don’t manage to find much. Until a Jaguar lands on Oz’s Maller at one of the gates. He warps through and Oz gives chase as the rest of us enter warp to catch up. After a short game of cat and mouse Oz manages to lock him down at the sun of the system we’re currently in. I enter warp to join the fray. The Maller is having a hard time breaking through the Jaguar’s shield tank. Luckily my Arbitrator is fit with some serious energy neutralizing power. After one cycle of the neuts, the Jaguar starts breaking down. Another Jaguar enters the fight but is surprisingly ineffective at, well everything. He start shooting my drones, which is annoying but doesn’t accomplish much. I have plenty more. The first Jaguar finally explodes and our attention shifts to the second one.

The second Jaguar begins rocketing away from us. Neither Oz nor myself can keep up with him, our caps are both empty. Not only that, but they aren’t regenerating very fast at all. Neither of us see any neutralizers or vamps on us, but our cap is still not regenerating. I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m not a fan. The Jaguar is out of disruptor range, but he’s still not warping out.

Well shit, that means this is going to be a trap…

Sure enough I click the d-scanner and see a whole fleet of ships start to appear in system. We need to get out of here and now. I align to a FW complex (probably not the best idea, but I was panicking). A Talos leads a small fleet of ships into our area. I don’t remember what they all were, but it was a lot more than we were going to be able to handle. Oz’s ship is aligned and just about to enter the warp bubble when his warp engine gets disrupted. I warp out, Oz is a lost cause at this point. I’ll never be able to save him. Oddly the enemy fleet is able to catch his pod as well. A near impossible feat without specialized modules. We’re surprised and saddened when his pod explodes ejecting his corpse into space.

Still in the grand scheme of things we managed a 53 million isk kill and lost a Maller that topped off around 40 million I think. So not too bad, although losing all of Oz’s implants definitely swings the scale back to the negatives. It was still a fun roam and we’re getting better at the fleet combat every time we go out. I’m excited to see us improve even further.

Another interesting point I wanted to make involves the Pilgrim speed fit I had come up with a few weeks ago. Oz had actually built one and tested it out before all of this went down (during my first trade run). He topped out at about five kills if I remember correctly, before he accidentally got caught on an acceleration gate and subsequently destroyed. But the reports coming back from him are promising. He was able to chase down assault ships that tried to run from him, and the flexibility of being able to engage and disengage at will is incredibly valuable. My Arbitrator fit mimics the Pilgrim fit, but with only four mid-slots, it has a hard time being as effective. Still I think a switch over to the new Pilgrim fit is in order for tomorrow!

All This for a Tech 1 Frigate?

It’s been a dull couple of days. The corp has had a great presence online lately and our pilots are logging in a lot and getting quite a bit done while there. Unfortunately there hasn’t been very much action in terms of combat. I logged in yesterday hoping that would change. The corp was once again online in force. With Snow now active in the HQ system, mining has come to the forefront of our thoughts. Hulks, crystals, and refineries are the topic of the day, as well as launching a second POS to house it all.

It’s all over my head though and I jump in the pilgrim to see if I can catch someone in our neighboring lo-sec systems. It’s not looking good. Our static system is empty. The system after that is empty. The system after that, is full of pilots. A huge fleet is sitting about 700km off of one of the gates. In fact I’m not sure how they are even showing up on my overview, I would think being that far away would put them off grid. Eh, what do I know? I keep moving hoping to find someone ratting in a secluded system.

I come across a Rifter or two, but they bug out as soon as they see someone in local. I can’t blame them, although I curse each and every one of them as they jump out. I’ve lost count of how many jumps I’ve done now. The lo-sec is a nice complex web of systems. It’s easy to keep moving but hard to get lost, and this many systems means inevitably someone is going to get careless, ballsy, or both.

I jump through a stargate to find a Ferox sitting on the gate I just came through. He’s not moving and the firing of the gate doesn’t seem to have disturbed him at all. I see two other pilots in local, but everyone of them is from a different corp. I know that doesn’t mean they aren’t working together but it’s enough incentive for me to call in for backup. Oz responds with a Drake in route. The Ferox still hasn’t moved and I’m beginning to think this pilot is afk. Interesting! Who leaves a battlecruiser at a gate in lo-sec? This seems too good to be true and I feel paranoid that I’m missing a trap here somewhere.

Oz warps in and engages while I decloak and launch my probes. We’re both aligned to celestial, well I hope Oz is aligned because I am. I’m still waiting for the local spike. After about 30 seconds I assume it’s not coming and Oz and I are very entertained as the ship explodes leaving the pod. It’s tempting to kill that too, just to really drive the lesson home, but neither of us really care for the security status loss we would incur from it. We loot the wreck and warp off to wait out our global timers. A kill is a kill but it seems somewhat hollow I suppose. We manage to make it back to HQ without incident and I log off for a bit to get some food and real life stuff taken care of.

A few hours have passed and I’m logging back in. There is a fleet invite on my screen before my systems have even finished loading which can only mean something is up. Apparently we are on full alert! A mining operation was interrupted by an Imicus entering our system. Oh no! It is impressive to see the reaction. Bubbles up on the static, flotillas stationed at each wormhole trying to intercept the intruder. Apparently he is fitted with a cloaking device, which will keep us from scanning him down, but it will also prevent him from warping from one spot to another without decloaking. I’m told to take up station on our lo-sec wormhole and point my pilgrim in that direction. I arrive on the scene but am the only one there.

Wait a minute, I thought someone was watching this hole? Apparently not, and as the minutes tick by I’m starting to feel convinced that our intruder has left a long time ago. But just as I’m about to scold the corp for their less than stellar vigilance, the wormhole flares. I call it out on comms and heat up my warp scrambler and other offensive modules. The Imicus decloaks and rushes the wormhole. I give chase, abandoning my wave of light combat drones. “It’s OK! I’ll be back in a minute!” I yell to them as I activate the wormhole. I always feel bad when I abandon drones. I can feel their sense of abandonment through the internets. I emerge on the other side of the hole just in time to see the ship align and warp off. I’ll never catch him in this thing, but I guess the mission is complete. We drove off the bastard! Good thing too, who knows what kind of damage that Imicus could have caused!